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Now browsing: Hometown News > Fishing > Dan Smith

Dan Smith
This Week | Archive

Deciphering the fisherman's code
Rating: 2.41 / 5 (17 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Oct 18 - 08:54

There is little doubt we fishermen have a language all our own. In writing this column, I sometimes forget some of my readers my not be up on the lingo that is second nature to the rest of us.

A perfect example occurred recently when I received a phone call from a lady who told me she had a problem with a column I had written.

In that one I mentioned I had caught a grouper near an oyster bar just east of the three bridges of Port Orange. She told me she had found the three bridges OK, but couldn't locate the oyster bar. I asked her what the tide was like when she went there and what type of boat she had. A bit bewildered, she wanted to know why that would matter. I had no idea the lady went to the three bridges looking for a drinking establishment. It took a while to sort that out and after I hung up I laughed to my wife that the call had turned out to be a kind of Abbot and Costello "who's on first" bit.

To her an oyster bar was a place to get a cold beer and seafood on the half shell. She and I were speaking a different language. Yankee visitors (from north of Jacksonville) often ask me about skinny water. Of course that means shallow water, but conversely there is no fat water. I suppose that is a Southern thing.

In fishing, hits, fights, strikes and battles are all good and a gig is not a show business job. That would be a pitchfork kind of tool used to spear flounder and other fish. In a recent column, I made a joke about braids. That would have nothing to do with hair, but everything to do with fishing line. Flouro-carbon is not a light bulb, but more fishing line. It has nothing to do with language, but the white boots worn by local fishermen often elicit comments. Those boots do not indicate a Pat Boone complex. Black rubber boots worn in our summer sun may cause burns so bad you will need medical treatment. Think vulcanizing.

A cast has nothing to do with a broken bone and a hook up does not indicate romance. Some can't fathom depth measurements, but a fathom is six feet.

It is no fluke that a flounder and a fluke are both flatfish.

A hook may be called an angle because of its shape, but an angler can come in all manner of shapes and sizes. Shrimp may be small as the name implies, but there also area jumbo shrimp, a contradiction in terms.

Locally all trout are sea trout. Most are spotted, but some are not and although they can be strong enough to be called gators, they can also be called weakfish. There are no types of fresh water trout like rainbows, lake or steelheads here in Central Florida.

Red fish are never red snapper, but they do live near mangrove snapper.

A snook is not a sucker in a card game, but a very game fish. Snook are seldom called sergeant majors, but often are called line sides.

A chum pot is not a receptacle in the bathroom used by your friend.

Whenever I refer to lobster, I am speaking of Florida lobster or Caribbean crayfish.

As a point of reference, Florida lobster do not have pinchers like the New England variety.

A winch is not a girl selling drinks, but a device to pull your boat onto the trailer.

In fishing, "the net" is never on your computer.

A gaff is not a comical mistake, but a serious long handled hook used to land a fish.

Whenever an angler talks about a drum, music does not enter into it. To a fisherman, electronics only refers to a depth finder or a GPS -- nothing else. While Alabama's Crimson Tide is the college football national champs, here a red tide is universally detested. Also, along those same lines to a fisherman, a kicker does not try for field goals. A kicker is a small outboard engine.

Well that's only a sampling of fishing language. Fish names are a whole different thing. A mullet is not a haircut, a barracuda is not a vintage car, a wahoo is not an exclamation, a jack will not help you change a tire, etc., etc. I do hope this helps some of you who I may have been confusing.

At any rate I wouldn't be averse to meeting you at an oyster bar for drinks as long as it's not in the middle of Spruce Creek.

Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.

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